Posted in Time-Saving Tips

Time-Saving Security Tips: Incident Response Edition

There are areas of security, such as alert management, where time can be saved and better spent elsewhere. However, there are also areas where the difference between a few hours and a few days could be massive fines, reputational damage, customer losses, and other business-threatening outcomes. 

This is why, when an Insider Threat incident takes place, your organization needs to be able to move quickly and not waste any time figuring out what happened, when, and why. Today, we’ll share some tips for speeding up your incident response processes to prevent fallout.

1. Prepare Before an Incident Happens

While it may not be the most welcome adage, it’s still valuable advice: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is never more true than with incident response. One of the most important (and potentially time-consuming) steps in any incident response process is preparation before any incident takes place. Incident response preparation means taking the necessary time to codify the organization’s security policies and incident response plan.

To do this, we recommend engaging a cross-disciplinary team to build a communications strategy with well-defined roles and responsibilities. Effective incident response training is important to help team members understand exactly what should happen in the event of an actual incident. To take this even one step further, incident simulations will help teams determine how to respond to an incident. They will also help spotlight strengths and weaknesses with people, processes, and technology involved in incident response, so these can be corrected proactively.

As part of incident response preparation, security leadership in the organization should evaluate the technology stack and identify which tools should be used at each phase of incident response. It may be the case that there are missing or redundant tools, and this is the ideal time to identify those. 

Next, a thorough documentation process should be put into place so that if and when an incident takes place, the security team can parse what happened and prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

If these steps are taken proactively, you will save a lot of time when an incident occurs. However, if you find yourself with a real, live incident on your hands, yet haven’t had the time or resources to prepare in advance, the following tips will also help you cut down the time to response. 

2. Invest in Visibility

When an Insider Threat incident takes place, you need to know exactly where to get context about what happened. However, system, network, and log data can be difficult to sift through. Even with a SIEM tool, it’s challenging to parse data and get the context and visibility needed to effectively respond to incidents.

These security alerting tools may let you know “what” has happened, but won’t give much context. You need to be able to answer the following questions:

  • Where did this happen? (In an app? On the network?)
  • What systems are affected?
  • When did it take place?
  • What else was going on at the time? 

If you don’t have a single pane of glass that can answer these questions, incident response can be very time-consuming, requiring the security team to go through many different tools and sift through massive amounts of logs. As you can imagine, this does nothing to speed up incident response. 

Instead, ideally, you want to invest in tools that are purpose-built to provide visibility and context. Having tools that can quickly provide the appropriate context can protect your organization’s reputation and resources.

3. Ensure a Complete Response 

Many organizations make the mistake of not responding in a complete manner to an incident. While this may seem to save time on the surface, if you don’t take all three of the steps described below, you are almost guaranteed to have some serious blowback on your hands, which will then require even more time to handle.

Contain

Think of containment as damage control. During this phase, the security team seeks to stop any damage that may have already occurred, and prevent further issues or escalation within affected systems. In the case of an Insider Threat, HR or legal teams may need to be engaged at this stage, determining next steps for the responsible party or parties.

Eradicate 

In the eradication phase, the affected systems must be removed from production (if relevant). All malicious content must be removed from the system. The visibility described in the second section is absolutely critical to effectively eradicating the problem. 

Recover

Finally, before systems are taken back into production, they must be effectively tested, monitored, and validated by the security team. Then they must be restored in a timely manner. This stage is crucial to ensure that additional incidents do not occur and that employees can get back to work as quickly as possible.

A complete response ensures that no time is wasted trying to figure out the full extent of the damage and fix it long after the fact. 

Save Time without Sacrificing Thoroughness

Enable a quick and thorough response to Insider Threat incidents with complete visibility into user activity using an Insider Threat management platform like ObserveIT. The ObserveIT platform simplifies and speeds up the incident response process by providing detailed visual captures, precise activity trails, and direct visibility into user and data activity. 

What strategies have you found to speed up incident response processes?

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